UpShot broadens CRM

Facing growing competition on the sales force automation front, UpShot this week announced the integration of its online CRM offering with popular desktop applications.

UpShot Office, available in online or offline versions, integrates the UpShot CRM solution with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other desktop applications, enabling salespeople to generate quotes, proposals, and presentations about their deals and prospects, according to company officials.

"[Sales] representatives do not just work with the CRM system," said Julie Choi vice president of marketing at Mountain View, Calif.-based UpShot. "They work with all these other tools. We can create an Excel spreadsheet that has 'what if' scenarios. If I offer them this type of discount, what's the margin I'm going to make? We've made it so that it's seamless and totally integrated."

The move comes as competitors such as Salesforce.com Inc. develop similar offerings. Salesforce.com within five years plans to deliver a full suite of office applications via a hosted paradigm, including ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems.

An analyst said Upshot was building on existing features enabling integration with Excel. "What they're adding, I think, is deeper integration with Excel, more functionality in picking and choosing what you can download," said Sheryl Kingstone, a senior analyst at the Yankee Group in Boston.

Although the new integration features would make sales representatives more efficient, Kingstone questioned whether the functions should really be performed by the marketing team rather than by salespeople.

UpShot Office gives sales teams access to UpShot data from desktop applications, with or without an Internet connection, so that they can manage sales activities such as adding or editing their accounts, contacts, leads, to-do entries, appointments, and notes, officials said. They can also configure products, generate personalized proposals, quotes, contracts, and presentations on the fly.

In addition to the offline option, UpShot Office also features UpShot Office Connect, APIs that link sales data in UpShot with desktop applications.

The product is scheduled to ship in June.

(Paul Krill contributed to this report.)

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